Headhunting is a complicated process and needs to be well planned and managed properly all the way through to achieve a satisfactory outcome for both the client and the successfully appointed candidate. It is easy to forget how important it is to get the entire process to work properly for the successful candidate as well as the client. The approached candidates will probably not have had any intention of making a career move prior to an approach being made.
Assuming that the initial research has been undertaken properly they will all be within the very top tier of potential candidates even prepared to have an initial conversation, let alone make a career move. Everybody has different motivators, career plans and ambitions in life and these all have to be explored and investigated during the process and due consideration made.
The recruiting client needs to be able to communicate a very clear brief to a headhunter and needs to have a clear understanding of the market place and the potential target companies. They need to have a good understanding of these companies and where possible, their remuneration packages, share option schemes and potential career prospects for potential candidates. Past experience has shown that this is very often not the case and they will have done very little prior planning and research before meeting headhunters.
This is often, from past experience, because they assume that the headhunter will do this for them as part of the process. If this has been agreed in advance then it can often be one of the best ways to collect information and build the best offer. This also helps to avoid both a counteroffer or a later hostile approach with an irresistible package.
An experienced headhunter needs to have excellent people skills to manage relationships with both clients and candidates, but the greatest challenge always comes from the candidate side of the fence. Successful people are always busy and will at the time of approach already be successful and committed to a career path. It is equally important for a headhunters research team to know how and when to approach candidates.
The how is essential as candidates are naturally suspicious and will generally want to know why them and what do you know about them and what they have achieved in their career to date. The initial stages of any headhunting process are usually the most complicated to get right and good planning and process management will normally guarantee to get through to the next stage, the meeting and interviewing stage.
The meeting and interviewing process is critical to the process being successful and is often the point where a process can come to a grinding halt. It is essential to know as much as possible about potential candidates at this point and gathering this information can be difficult when making what in the candidate’s mind should be an entirely confidential approach. Modern-day technology has made information gathering much easier via web searches and visits to LinkedIn, but there will be information that can only be found out by meeting face to face.
It is important to remember at this point that these candidates are not actively seeking to make a career move and so they will initially need to be sold and buy into the potential opportunity being discussed. Once that has been achieved, they should be able to sell themselves into the opportunity.
It is now important to communicate your findings and thoughts back to the client as this will help with any processes that they may need to go through internally. They may have to rethink the package that they are offering and may also see the potential for adding additional responsibilities as a result of the information that they now have. Successful people are not always everyone’s friend and there may be potential internal conflicts to think about, particularly if the industry sector is small and closely interwoven.
The client interview stage can often be lengthy and involve several stages and possibly psychometric testing and it is important that candies know this in advance and can plan their lives accordingly. By now candidates will have bought into the process and be keen to get to offer stage, but it is essential to keep communication at a high level and work closely with the client as well.
Moving to the offer stage whilst exciting can often be the most complicated and stressful time of all. By now, assuming that all has gone to plan, the client will be committed to a candidate and may have a second choice, but equally may have dismissed all the other candidates. By now all parties should be aware of what motivates the chosen candidate and what barriers may stand in the way of them making a career move. These often revolve around family and children at various key stages of education that make moving complicated.
An offer is now made and the most complicated stage is potentially about to start. If we assume that the selected candidate is as good as the process has shown, their existing company will be extremely keen to persuade them to stay and will make a counteroffer. This could involve a pay rise, promotion, share options or other incentives. It will also negate the need to start their own process to find a replacement. Headhunters often talk about the legal of fees that they lose to counteroffers. In reality, a robust and well thought out process should negate this. The key to success is to have a plan and a set of objectives at each and every stage of the process and to stick to the plan.
What to find out more information?
Call Alastair Ames on 0783 6683 995 for consultancy & project management services to support both recruitment and ‘search and selection’ processes at senior levels.